Be Inc has filed a lawsuit against Microsoft.

The suit claims: "Microsoft harmed Be through a series of illegal, exclusionary and anticompetitive acts designed to maintain its monopoly in the Intel-compatible PC operating-system market."

The company argues Microsoft created exclusive arrangements with PC manufacturers prohibiting the sale of computers with multiple operating systems pre-installed.

Be different Be emerged as a maker of operating-system software in 1997, pitching its product – BeOS – as an alternative to Windows that was better suited for video and other multimedia applications.

It tried to get its software shipped on Intel-based computers alongside Windows in what's known as a "dual boot" configuration. The company claims that its efforts were unsuccessful due to the anticompetitive nature of Microsoft's deals with its industry partners.

For example, Be said it reached a verbal agreement with Hitachi to include Be's operating system alongside Windows on a line of Hitachi computers. The deal fell through due to the restrictive terms of the Japanese hardware maker's Windows licensing-agreement, Be claims.

Denial A Microsoft spokesman yesterday said the company hasn't had a chance yet to view the complaint, but contested claims made by the Be.

Microsoft legal spokesman Jim Desler said: "Computer manufacturers have always been able to ship computers with multiple operating systems. Computer makers have chosen Windows over competing operating systems because Windows is the best product."

The antitrust action filed by Be follows a similar action filed in January by Internet browser maker Netscape Communications, a company now owned by Microsoft rival AOL Time Warner. Netscape argued that the way Microsoft distributed Internet Explorer was harmful to Netscape's Navigator Web-browser business.